Thursday, April 21, 2016

Martin House Riverside Shootout Preview

This Sunday, Amanda and I will be traveling to Fort Worth to compete in Martin House's on-site homebrew competition, Riverside Shootout. Think of it like Chopped but for beer. We will be given some of the main ingredients that Martin House uses every day for their own beer and we are allowed to bring any extra ingredients we need to fashion an outstanding homebrew batch. The winner gets a cash prize of $500, and they get to brew their recipe with Martin House on their big boy system.

Our epic Division bottle share, and
Derek from Dirty Job Brewing, Arlington's
next craft brewery! Check out our interview
with Dirty Job on Atypical DFW Podcast here.
As we mentioned last week, we are going to explore the Tropical Stout category new to the 2015 BJCP guidelines. While this competition is not strictly judged according to guidelines, we think this category is just weird enough to produce a gem. We finished the stout with pineapple for a nice dose of tropical flavor to balance against the roast. We received some good feedback from some other folks when we brought the beer to a bottle share at Division Brewing last week. Hopefully the batch we brew this weekend will live up to the pilot!

Meanwhile the New Main brewing setup has really been coming together lately. Thanks to our gift card from our Operation Bravo win at Shannon and a few well-timed homebrew supply store sales, we have been able to acquire a few pieces of equipment that should make brew day run smoother and more predictably. We have added a whole second vessel and burner, a high temp pump, all of the fittings and hoses the pump needs, as well as a nice heavy duty cart/stand on which the whole shebang is mounted. 

We're going to pump - *clap* - YOU up!

Sure, we could have just dished out an assload of money for a standard single-tier, 2-pump, 3-vessel system and just brew like the majority of people do at this stage, but the idea of doing what everyone else does just for the sake of simplicity isn't really our thing. We are going to brew a test batch Saturday so that we are fully acquainted with the system come Sunday, but I have faith that our ducks will be in a row for competition.

I don't have a whole lot else to say this week, sadly. However, I think it's high time we share a homebrew recipe with you fine people. This beer lends well to spicing and/or dry hopping, so get crazy with it!

Palo Alto Wit

Brew Method: BIAB
Style Name: Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer (Belgian Witbier base)
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 10 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 11 gallons
Boil Gravity: 1.048
Efficiency: 60% (brew house)

Original Gravity: 1.052
Final Gravity: 1.014
ABV (standard): 5%
IBU (tinseth): 15.91
SRM (morey): 6.1

10 lb - American - Pale 2-Row (42.6%)
10 lb - American - Wheat (42.6%)
2 lb - Flaked Oats (8.5%)
1.5 lb - Canadian - Honey Malt (6.4%)

2 oz - Mandarina Bavaria, Type: Pellet, AA: 4, Use: Boil for 15 min, IBU: 7.71
2 oz - Saphir, Type: Pellet, AA: 4.25, Use: Boil for 15 min, IBU: 8.19

1) Sparge, Temp: 155 F, Time: 60 min, Amount: 33 qt, Ladle Rinse, mash out

2 each - Orange Zest, Time: 5 min, Type: Flavor, Use: Boil
2 each - Lemon Zest, Time: 5 min, Type: Flavor, Use: Boil
1 sprig - Rosemary, Type: Spice, Use: Boil
1 oz - Sage, Type: Herb, Use: Boil

Wyeast - Belgian Witbier 3944
Starter: No
Form: Liquid
Attenuation (avg): 74%
Flocculation: Med-Low
Optimum Temp: 62 - 75 F
Fermentation Temp: 65 F for 4-5 days, then ramp to 70 F for 1-2 and cold crash prior to kegging
3 volumes CO2 (plenty of protein in this beer for a nice fluffy head)

Mixing up some rosemary, sage, and basil tea
We've brewed this recipe a couple different ways before, and we think the best method for adding the spices is to just brew the base witbier and let it ferment through primary. Then once you've cold crashed the beer, rack to secondary with a tea made from your spices. The reason for doing it this way is that you can pull a sample of the fermented, uncarbonated beer and measure it out equally into 3-5 sample glasses so you can dose varying amounts of the tea into the beer. Taste each one and compare them to each other and to the base beer in order to decide the appropriate amount of spice tea to add to your fermenter. Then all you do is scale it up to your batch size, pitch the tea, then let it sit in secondary for a few days before kegging or packaging.

Make sure to accurately measure out your
tasting samples so your dosage rates are right
That may seem like a lot of work, but it gives you steady, standard, and easily repeatable results every time. You never know how potent your herbs will be, and if you're using things like fresh rosemary, it's easy to overdo it. Likewise, if you prefer to dry hop the beer rather than spice it, you can simply pitch your desired aroma hops when you rack to secondary. 

If any of y'all brew this or any of our other recipes, please drop us a line and let us know how they turned out! If you're in the Arlington area, we'd love to meet up and swap some homebrew, too. You can reach us at: 

or you can leave us a comment below. Also, don't forget to like and share our posts on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram at newmainbrewing

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Semi-lazy Update

I feel I need to explain why the quality and quantity of my posts have dropped off lately. I may or may not have mentioned before, but I am a Civil Engineer by trade. I mainly design residential and commercial developments (think neighborhoods and businesses) and I also work with floodplain remapping. I know you're all riveted and can't wait to hear more about storm drainage and sewer lines, but unfortunately that's not really what this blog is about.

I said all that to say that while I can legally refer to myself as an engineer, I am only certified by the state of Texas as an Engineer-In-Training, or EIT. There is one more certification that is much more legitimate and much harder for an engineer to obtain: Professional Engineer, or PE. There are all kinds of documentation and hoops to jump through in order to become licensed as a PE, but the final determination comes in the form of an 8-hour long, comprehensive, big, hairy, ugly, and quite frankly rude-ass exam.

I will be taking this test in a couple weeks, so in between home and work I have been devoting "every" unoccupied moment to preparing for the exam. I put "every" in quotes because, let's face it, I'm no machine. I require study breaks filled with internet memes, podcasting with my friends, the occasional novel or two, and other such respites from equations and proofs. Hell, I didn't even have enough time to mow the back yard, allowing it to resemble a dark, mysterious rainforest-like setting that threatened to swallow our poor, unsuspecting dogs whole!

"Don't go into the long grass!" (Lost World, Jurassic Park)

This all means that the time I would normally spend typing away about how great beer is and how good we are at doing beer is now spent buried under a small traveling library of reference manuals, an arsenal of number two pencils in various stages of sharpness, a previously-small-and-charming-forest-worth of graph paper etched with the frantic scribblings of a mad man, all covered in a fresh dusting of eraser rubbings, pencil shavings, and coffee stains. (can you tell I need a creative outlet?)

All embellishment aside, I have managed to keep my brewing pipeline stocked with the third incarnation of our rosemary and sage belgian wheat ale, Palo Alto Wit. This time around we brewed a little more than 8 gallons with a smaller amount of spices so that we could "dry-hop" the beer with the spices after fermentation and get a much more dialed-in flavor profile. After primary, the samples tasted pleasant and showed that we were at about 5.5% ABV. We will make a tea with some sage and perhaps even some basil to dose into the beer for just the right aroma to complement the flavor.

We have also accidentally created an excellent stout recipe while preparing for Martin House's Riverside Shootout Homebrew Competition happening the weekend after my PE exam. I teased last post about a new style category that was recently added to the BJCP Style Guidelines. I now realize I have no control over other people's recipes or fermentation, so secrecy is kind of a moot point. The best brewer will execute the best beer he or she can, and that's really what competition is about. We are attempting to create a Tropical Stout, category 16C, to be named Parrot Metal after my pathetic effort to imitate a metal singer's growl on our podcast at Dr. Jeckyll's several months ago (check the 30:00 mark).

Various weird tropical fruits soaked in vodka to bring out
the "essence" of tropicality
The base recipe (before adding anything to make it "tropical") is actually everything we love about stout. It has excellent roast flavor, bitterness is balanced but present, alcohol is a manageable 7%, and it looks great in the glass. The style guideline actually calls for a much sweeter stout with low bitterness, but I think once we add some tropical fruit tinctures to the beer, the bitterness will balance out against the sugary juices. Regardless of how this performs at the competition, you can count on us brewing this one again.

We have also found a new homebrewing competition while out cruising the breweries in DFW. Backcountry Brewing from Colorado recently bought the recently-out-of-business Firewheel brewery as a satellite to brew and distribute to Texas, so we thought we'd go check them out. I was in a Belgian beer mood, so I sampled their Belgian Pale and a Red Saison, which were both pleasant and enjoyable. While tossing back these fine ales, I noticed a sign on the wall that urged homebrewers to inquire about a homebrewing competition.

Upon investigation, not only do the winners get to brew their beer Pro-Am style with Backcountry, but a portion of the pint sales come back to the hombrewer as a cash prize! I think our Palo Alto Wit will have the opportunity to shine bright in this type of competition that is not so heavily dependent on guideline interpretations. We shall see! (Sign up at the brewery, and deadline for submission of 24 bottles of your 1 entry is May 14)

So there. I've put off studying long enough, and I must return to the world of conversion factors and interpolation. If I don't survive, tell my wife and dogs I love them, and drink our homebrew at my funeral.